Chef Jim Oppat is the corporate executive chef of Joe Vicari Restaurant Group and oversees Joe Muer Seafood (both the Bloomfield Hills and Detroit locations), as well as all Andiamo restaurants. He and his wife and four children live in Macomb Township, and it’s a household where “there are almost always friends dropping over,” he says. He tries to have an array of cheeses at the ready for unexpected visitors, and loves to cook “for anyone and everyone.” A wine aficionado, Oppat has a wine cellar where he collects favorites from around the world. This lamb dish has been a family staple for years.
Irish Lamb Stew (Serves 10)
4 ounces white wine
2 quarts white stock
4 ounces, mirepoix (finely chopped vegetables such as celery, onions, and carrots), tied in a cheesecloth
2 pounds peeled potatoes, cut into large chunks
4 pounds lamb shoulder, cut in 1 ½-inch cubes
1 sachet d’Epices of each: bay, thyme, peppercorns and parsley
1 ½ teaspoon salt, amount will vary to taste
1 teaspoon white pepper, amount will vary to taste
Salt to taste
Fresh-squeezed lemon as desired
Pre-cook each separately, then combine:
20 carrots, cut to 2½-3-inch strips
20 turnips, cut to 2½-3-inch strips
20 pieces of celery, cut to 2½-3-inch strips
20 pearl onions, cut to 2½-3-inch strips
Combine white wine, stock, mirepoix, and potatoes. Place the lamb in a sieve and lower it into the liquid so it will be easy to remove. Bring the stock to a simmer and skim the surface. Add the sachet d’Epices, cover the pan and stew the meat over low heat until tender to the bite for approximately 60-90 minutes.
Remove excess grease/fat from the surface, and discard the sachet d’Epices and the mirepoix. Remove the cooked meat and set aside. Puree the potato mixture until smooth (this will be your sauce for the stew.) If the broth looks like it is too much for the potatoes to thicken, remove some to achieve the desired consistency. Place the lamb back into the sauce and adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper. Garnish the stew with the precooked vegetables, simmer to heat them through. Adjust final seasoning with salt and pepper, and add a few drops of fresh- squeezed lemon. Serve with your favorite freshly baked, warm bread.